Last month, California passed a safe patient handling law called AB1136 which helps prevent back injuries for Nurses in acute care hospitals. The law was prompted from the SEIU Nurse Alliance of California and was enacted on October 7th, 2011. The law becomes effective January 2012
and will start to be enforced by January 2013. This bill would make findings and declarations concerning the lifting, repositioning, and transfer of patients in acute care hospitals and resulting injuries to hospital personnel.
AB1136 will amend the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 to require an employer to maintain a safe patient handling policy, as defined, for patient care units, and to provide trained lift teams, as defined, or staff trained in safe lifting techniques in each general acute care hospital, except for specified hospitals.
The safe patient handling policy would require the replacement of manual lifting and transferring of patients with powered patient transfer devices, lifting devices, or lift teams, as specified. As part of the injury and illness prevention programs required by existing regulations, employers would be required to adopt a patient protection and health care worker back and musculoskeletal injury prevention plan, which shall include a safe patient handling policy component, as specified, to protect patients and health care workers, as defined, in health care facilities. By changing the definition of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
This is good news for hospitals and nurses! It does not prevent a nurse from lifting a patient manually,
however it is required that there be some lift assist devices available. It is necessary for all employees transferring patients to be trained annually and to be aware of how to use equipment and hospital policy and procedures.